Miami Beach

Travel Guide North America USA Southern United States Florida Miami Beach

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Introduction

Miami Beach is a city in Florida. This small barrier island near Miami was originally cleared of mangroves in the late 1800s to make way for a coconut farm, and was later incorporated as a city by real estate developers in 1915. Miami Beach has been one of America's pre-eminent beach resorts for almost a century.

Miami Beach, like Miami, has a huge Latin American population, and Spanish is a language often used for day-to-day discourse in many places. However, English is the language of preference, particularly when dealing with businesses and government. Spanglish, a mixture of English and Spanish, is a somewhat common occurrence, with bilingual locals switching between English and Spanish mid-sentence. The local Latin population is mostly Cuban exiles (who have now become second and third generation locals), with South Americans from various countries gaining ground. There is also a large Haitian community and many signs and public announcements are in English, Spanish and Creole.

Miami Beach has a rich history as a trend-setting arts center, from the world famous nightclubs of the 1950s to the rich cultural life of today's modern South Beach. Today the entertainment, production and arts communities of Miami Beach are stronger than ever.

Art museums, ballet performances, cultural events and entertainment are a part of this great city. Art Center at Lincoln Road has performance art exhibitions, as well as classes and courses including photography, jewelry-making and painting.

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Neighbourhoods

Although tourists generally consider Miami Beach to be part of Miami, it is in actuality its own municipality. Located on a barrier island east of Miami and Biscayne Bay, it is home to a large number of beach resorts and is one of the most popular spring break party destinations in the world. Because of its length, it is generally broken up into three districts.

South Beach - Southern tip of the island to about 23rd Street. The most popular part of the beach.
Mid Beach - Often known just as "Miami Beach", this district refers to the "Mid-beach" area between 23rd Street and 63rd Street.
North Beach - Northern tip of the island, from about 63rd Street on up.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Plane

Miami International Airport (MIA) is closest, but Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) is only around 40 minutes away by shuttle (depending on traffic) and the plane tickets are often cheaper. Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport offers charter flights to the Miami area.

By Car

Take I-95 North or South to 395 over Biscayne Bay which turns into 5th Street.

Taxi- Initial rate is $2.50, plus $0.40 for every 1/6 mile. There is a flat rate from the airport to Miami Beach based on 5 different zones, ranging from $24 to $52.
Shared Taxi/Shuttle Service- For a cheaper ride to your destination in South Beach, you can opt to use a "shared taxi/shuttle service". This costs about $18/person plus a tip (about $23/person). You can find the shuttles outside of the airport baggage claim area. No need for reservations. For your trip back to the airport, you can contact the company to pick you up from your hotel and take you back at the same rates.

By Bus

From MIA, you can take the J or 150 bus to Miami Beach. The 150 continues to South Beach. The fare is approximately $2.
From FLL, you can take the #1 Broward County bus to Aventura Mall, and transfer there to the Miami-Dade S bus.
From downtown Miami, take the C or S bus.

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Getting Around

Taxis are generally expensive, but available at almost any time and place. Car rentals are the most convenient form of transportation for visitors, with local companies offering better prices but national chains offering more convenience regarding return policies and shop times.

By Public Transport

South Beach Local - a shuttle bus that operates in a loop from 19th St to the southern end of Miami Beach (buses travel in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions). Fare is only 25 cents.
Miami-Dade Transit has several routes serving Miami Beach. The most useful is the S, which runs north-south along the entire length of the island, continuing to downtown Miami. The S runs every 12 minutes during the day, and hourly all night long. Schedules and routes are available from the website or by calling +1 305 770-3131.

By Bike

Miami Beach has become more bicycle friendly in recent years with the addition of new bike paths and bike lanes, although not as comprehensive as other major cities. Notable additions to the biking and pedestrian infrastructure include the paved "Beach Walk" which runs parallel to Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue and is directly on the beach, plus the new South Point Park along the bay. In Miami Beach and South Beach riding is permitted on sidewalks, which luckily are wider than average. Pedestrians and drivers tend to be tolerant of bikers and willing to share the right of way. However, be prepared to slow down and go on foot, particularly on the congested streets closer to the beach. Absent heavy auto traffic, South Beach is biking bliss.

There are better attempts at bike-friendliness in the South Beach district, where most of the bike rental shops are located. Lummus Park and Lincoln Road Mall are great for bikers, and have plenty of bike racks throughout; meanwhile, if you are trying to go north or south, go a few blocks west and take one of the roads less traveled. Meridian Ave is a good choice: plenty of interesting Miami-style houses to see and a local park.

If you didn't bring your own bike, bike rentals will run about $8/hour or $30/day (or 24-hour time period).

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Eat

Many international cuisines are to be found, with a heavy leaning towards Latin foods, particularly Cuban cuisine. Some Cuban cuisine to try includes a sandwich cubano (Cuban sandwich) and a cafecito (literally it means little coffee, but compares to a strong, sweet espresso).

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Drink

Most of Miami Beach's nightlife is concentrated in South Beach, but there are still a few places along the rest of the beach. If you go inland, Miami's nightlife will be centered on Coconut Grove. "Cuba Libre" is a popular drink, known to the rest of the world as plain old "Rum and Coke". Also popular is the "Mojito", a sugar/mint/soda-water and rum drink. Joining an organized nightlife tour like the ever-popular South Beach VIP Pub Crawl can save money, and has the added benefit of new friends and other travelers to socialize with.

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Sleep

Miami Beach is a tourist town and has many hotels, located mostly around the beach area. High season (fewer rooms, higher prices,) is during the winter months of November through February, with summer being the low season. There are hostels throughout the city. One may also be interested in a vacation rental.

Do your homework when booking a hotel in South Beach. Nearly all of the hotels have a restaurant, at least a small one, out in front of the hotel. That appears to be what gets the hotel a three-star rating. However in many cases, the hotel by itself is far from three-stars. Read reviews from other travelers before booking or you might be very disappointed.

The cost of services in hotels can be pricey like in hotels elsewhere in the world, but you can seek out local services within walking distances or online such as the popular Oliom. laundry service, which is only for hotel guests in Miami Beach. edit. Since you can pretty much walk or bike to anywhere in South Beach, trying out local services is the best way to get a feel of the place.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 7:10 on Sep 30, 19 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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